Immediately after pressing play on the first track of Mike Clark and the Sugar Sounds’ debut album, “Round and Round,” it is nearly impossible not to expect the metronomic pulse of an egg shaker ushering in Veronica Bennett of The Ronettes’ impassioned pleas to “be her baby.” In contrast, you are welcomed by a plaintive guitar melody corkscrewing you into the storied voice of Mike Clark (The Jack Trades/Crow Flies/The Haunted Windchimes) as it gushes forth in delicate falsetto. Yes, I said delicate falsetto. This is your cue to throw any preconceptions, and what you have come to expect from Mike Clark, immediately overboard.
Conjuring echoes of Al Green, Otis Redding and even The Ronettes, “Round and Round” is an album that adds a rustic quality to soulful traditions in a way that transforms it as a dish into something altogether new… just by adding bacon. The “Round and Round” experience is so simple, yet transformative; it makes you avoid using words like revolutionary to describe it. In the mirror, you are more apt to wonder: “why hasn’t this been done before?”
This band is comprised of what amounts to a Southern Colorado super-group. Quoting their press release directly, the Sugar Sound line-up is comprised of these prime musicians: “Inaiah Lujan (guitar/The Haunted Windchimes), Marc Benning (bass/34 Satellite), Alex Koshak (percussion/The Grant Sabin Band), Grant Sabin (trumpet/The Grant Sabin Band), and Ian Bourgal (sax/The Changing Colors).” I’d be a fool not mention the guest artists including Joe Johnson, Kimberly Sewell, Kelsey Sprague, Adam Stone, and Jeff Fuller.
Truthfully, this was an un-nerving enterprise, prior to hitting play, understanding that I could potentially say something like, “eh, it’s alright,” to virtually every notable musician in Southern Colorado. That anxiety was relieved the very moment the play button was pushed, and disbelieving questions like “this is f**king Mike Clark(?!), “ began bouncing around my head.
Mike Clark and The Sugar Sounds have embarked on this maiden journey, “Round and Round,” with sails full of something outstanding and nearly unspeakable. I don’t normally enjoy talking in an overly serious tone, but this band has a genuine potential to become a part of our national lexicon and greater American musical heritage. The Blank Tape Records’ website politely asks us to “come along and take a chance on The Sugar Sounds!” I disagree with the modesty of this tone. I’d rather say, unless you are hopelessly allergic to fun… buy this record at once.